With the political season in full effect, many people have already decided whom they’ll vote for. But while the big guys are getting all of the attention, it’s the tale of the people behind the scenes that have begun to peak.
Amanda Wilkerson, an applied social science and political science graduate student at FAMU, has firsthand experience when it comes to running with the “big dogs.”
In her book “Defeat at Waterloo: Fighting on the Front Lines of the Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign,” Wilkerson details accounts as a key organizing part of the Clinton campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries.
“I wanted to support someone who championed an issue that was near and dear to me,” Wilkerson said. “Although no particular candidate fits anyone like a glove, I saw her as a seasoned, tried and true fighter.”
As a student without health insurance, Wilkerson chose the Clinton campaign because of the canidates support for issues that specifically impacted her life.
Looking to her father, a pastor and active organizer, Wilkerson became aware that she could be involved in more than just voting. She learned that many could work on the campaign, organize and work behind the scenes.
Wilkerson, who has a degree in political science, said her father influenced her decision to follow in his footsteps. She began working for campaigns in high school.
“My first realization of what my dad did was during the Jimmy Carter presidential election,” Wilkerson said. “He was one of the state key organizers for that campaign in Florida. I can remember going into his office at home and seeing him in pictures with local elected officials.”
Wilkerson later became an aide to the Clinton campaign and invited Clinton to appear at FAMU. Wilkerson was then giventhe opportunity to travel to Iowa and help organize the administration. Building a foundation at FAMU, Wilkerson pioneered a group that allowed students to get together and talk about political issues of the day.
“Before I went to Iowa, I started a group on campus, and I was a part of student government,” Wilkerson said. “We put together an entity called Potluck and Politics.”
Wilkerson remembers how she first approached the Clinton campaign thinking that she could win people over just by eloquently speaking. But soon, she learned that people wanted her to talk to them first and talk politics later. After Clinton lost the primary contest to Obama, she Wilkerson later helped organize for the Obama campaign.
“I learned that you have to be organized,” Wilkerson said. “You have to be thorough. You have to know every issue. And you have to know how to convince people that [he or she] is the candidate for them.”
After speaking to her eighth grade class about her trips to Washington, she found herself writing her story through her lesson plans.
Wilkerson became empowered through her stories while inspiring the children to do more than what she ever did.
“I never thought I would write a book,” she said. “After being a teacher at Horizon Middle School, every Wednesday I would talk about politics and have to type up lesson plans. It was then that I found myself writing my book.”
Wilkerson’s book is available on Amazon.com.
“I want readers to take away that, one, any opportunities out there they can do it,” Wilkerson said. “And two, that when you talk politics, you have to know how to talk to people because that’s what politics is all about.”